How to Access the Bank Account of a Deceased Spouse
The passing of a spouse is always a traumatic event for the surviving spouse. It will be even more traumatic for the surviving spouse if the departing spouse (“deceased”) is the sole breadwinner of the family and access to the funds in the bank account(s) of the deceased is required for funeral expenditure and other daily needs.
This article sets out the general principles for dealing with the assets of the deceased in Singapore; in particular, the money held in the deceased’s bank account(s).
When a Person Dies Without Leaving a Will
A person who dies without a will is known as dying intestate. Under such circumstances, the personal representative (an executor of the estate of a deceased person) will have to obtain the Letters of Administration to deal with the assets of the deceased.
The process to obtain the Letters of Administration is as follows:
- The personal representative obtains the death certificate
- All lawful beneficiaries under intestacy choose the Administrator(s)
- All other lawful beneficiaries in writing waive the right to be the Administrator
- Administrator(s) find 2 sureties to guarantee gross estate value for Administration Board
- Administrator applies for Letters of Administration with list of assets in court
- Letter of Administration obtained after 1 year
- Administrator pays all debts and distributes remaining assets according to the Intestate Succession Act
The Intestate Succession Act will determine how the property is distributed upon death. This includes any bank accounts, securities, and property belonging to the deceased. In most cases, the property will be distributed in split shares amongst the deceased’s “heirs”, which would include his surviving family members. If no relatives can be found, the entire estate goes to the state.
When a Person Dies Leaving a Will
If a will was written, there is no need for the beneficiaries to choose an Administrator(s) and neither do they need to waive their rights to be one. The estate will be distributed in accordance with the will of the deceased after all debts and liabilities have been dealt with.
For more information, you may wish to download our free guide to will-making here:
What Happens if the Deceased has Less than $50,000 in Assets?
In the event that the deceased has less than $50,000 in assets and no outstanding debt and liabilities, the Public Trustee’s Office may assist the next-of-kin in the distribution of the assets. More information can be found in our article on having the Public Trustee administer the deceased’s estate.
Settlement of the Deceased’s Monies inside the Bank Accounts
If the bank is notified of the deceased’s death, there will be an immediate “freeze” of all the deceased’s accounts – savings, current, fixed deposits, etc. The legal representative of the deceased estate or the surviving joint account holder(s) then needs to approach the bank to close the account(s). During this settlement process, no withdrawals, including GIRO deductions, will be allowed from the account(s).
Gaining Access to a Joint Account
The process of gaining access to a joint account is outlined below:
- The surviving joint account holder provides the bank with a copy of the death certificate.
- Bring a proof of identity (passport or NRIC).
- Bank will automatically give the account balance to the surviving account holder once the account is closed. (This is provided the joint account is not pledged to a liability of the bank such as an overdraft)
In the case of more than one surviving joint account holder, the bank will proportionately allocate the balance. In this case, all concerned parties must be present and provide the relevant documentation to close the account and withdraw the money. If any dispute arises, the bank can freeze the account and advise the surviving account holders to seek a court order to settle the dispute.
Gaining Access to a Single Account
If the account is held in a single account held by the deceased, the family members or the legal representative can apply for release of funds from the bank.
Some banks may not require letters of administration if the amount in the deceased’s account is less than $5,000. The deceased’s next-of-kin can approach the bank without a letter of administration or grant of probate. The bank will recognise only the deceased’s spouse, children, parents and siblings as the next-of-kin. This is however dependent on the individual bank’s policies and the bank may still request for the letters of Administration or Grant of Probate to release the funds to the next-of-kin.
- Plan Intergenerational Wealth With a Singapore Family Office
- 8 Tools You Must Know for Estate Planning in Singapore
- Guide to CPF Nominations & How to Make One In Singapore
- What Happens to Your Debts When You Die?
- Who Pays for the Mortgage Debts and Medical Bills After Death?
- Is Inheritance Tax Payable When You Die in Singapore?
- Is Stamp Duty Payable When Inheriting Property in Singapore?
- How to Donate your Assets to Charity
- Organ Donation in Singapore (under HOTA, or For Science)
- Finding Missing Persons in Singapore (or ‘Presumed Dead’)
- How Do I Make a Will?
- The Complete Guide to Making Your Will in Singapore
- Why Should You Make a Will?
- Checklist for Drafting a Comprehensive Will in Singapore
- Get An Affordable Will Made By Experienced Lawyers
- Choosing an Executor for Your Will in Singapore
- How to Prepare a Schedule of Assets for Your Will in Singapore
- Appointing a Guardian for Your Children in Your Will in Singapore
- What is a Mutual Will, Mirror Will and Joint Will?
- How to Give Away Overseas Assets in a Will in Singapore
- Can I Use My Will to Distribute Insurance Proceeds?
- Where Should You Store Your Will?
- How Can I Change My Will?
- How to Plan for Mental Incapacitation
- Mental Capacity Assessment for LPAs and Wills
- Appointment of Deputies under the Mental Capacity Act
- How to Appoint a Deputy for Mentally Incapacitated Persons in Singapore
- Advance Medical Directives in Singapore
- Making a Lasting Power of Attorney in Singapore
- Revocation of a Lasting Power of Attorney
- Advance Care Planning in Singapore: Why and How to Get Started
- No Executor For Your Loved One's Will: What to Do
- What is Probate? Is It Needed If Your Loved One Passes Away?
- Can the Public Trustee Administer Your Loved One's Estate?
- Managing a Loved One's Estate After Their Death in Singapore
- Applying for a Grant of Probate in Singapore
- Intestacy: Applying for Letters of Administration in Singapore
- Obtaining a Fresh Grant of Probate and Resealing a Foreign Grant of Probate
- Comprehensive Guide to Probate Fees in Singapore
- Dispute with Executor of Will in Singapore: What to Do
- Bona Vacantia: Dying With No Will or Relatives in Singapore
- What Happens If You Die Without a Will in Singapore?
- An Executor’s Checklist to Executing a Will in Singapore
- What to Do If the Will Cannot be Found
- How to Contest a Will in Singapore (Grounds and Procedure)
- What Happens to the HDB Flat When One Owner Dies?
- How to Access the Bank Account of a Deceased Spouse
- What Happens to the Car When the Owner Passes Away?
- Simultaneous Death: How are Assets Distributed When Family Members Die at the Same Time?
- Can a half-brother be considered a next of kin? (when distributing the assets of the deceased)
- What happens to property when a deceased’s next-of-kin or named personal representative is uncontactable?
- What happens to residuary property not accounted for?
- What happens to a Singapore expatriate's assets when he passes on?
- What If a Beneficiary Dies Before Receiving His Inheritance?
- How Can Your Minor Beneficiaries Receive Their Inheritance?
- Unfair Maintenance: What Can Singapore's Law Do for You?